Opening a French tacos restaurant in Hanoi in 2018, Julien Sanchez was one of the first people to bring this type of cake to Vietnam.
French tacos are different from traditional Mexican tacos even though the names are similar. According to The New Yorker, French tacos were invented at the beginning of the 21st century in the Rhône-Alpes region.
French tacos use a tortilla shell (a thin, round, flat cake made from flour or cornstarch, originating from Mexico), and the filling is made from meat, vegetables, fries and sauce. This is also the basic ingredient of a Mexican taco, the only difference is that French tacos are tightly rolled while Mexican tacos are like an open-mouth sandwich. In appearance, French tacos look more like Mexican tortillas. This similarity also causes a lot of controversy, especially with Mexicans who believe there is “cultural appropriation” – according to The New Yorker .
Julien Sanchez (pictured) came to Vietnam in 2016 and came up with the idea of selling French tacos after meeting his wife in 2017.
The biggest difficulty at first was introducing customers to what French tacos are because even French people who are not near Lyon sometimes don’t know about the existence of this type of cake.
Julien said he tried French tacos for the first time when he was in middle school. Where he lives, tacos are like a type of snack, the ingredients are mainly from industrial goods, cheap, and easy to buy.
Julien named the store Hey Pelo with the first location in the Tay Ho district. The word “pelo” in Lyon slang means “guy”.
Initially, his target audience was foreigners. However, after only a short time, the store quickly attracted Vietnamese customers. From a store with only Julien and his wife in the kitchen, they have developed two more branches with 15 employees each.
In the photo is the store in Ba Dinh. At lunchtime, the store has hundreds of orders – mainly for takeout or delivery. Many customers coming to the restaurant have to wait for a long time. In the evening, customers filled two floors of the restaurant.
At peak times, Julien and the store manager have to go into the kitchen to assist staff.
The store’s cakes come in 5 sizes, from XS to L, with prices ranging from 75,000-350,000 VND each. According to Julien, the largest one is about the size of a bicep and weighs about 4 kg. For young people with average appetite, a portion size S is reasonable, with a price of about 130,000 VND.
Each cake is personalized from choosing the size to the filling ingredients. With vegetables, customers have four options such as onion, tomato, lettuce or tomato sauce. With meat, the store also has 6 options including beef and chicken.
To order food, customers will follow the steps including choosing size, vegetables, meat, sauce and optional side dishes such as pineapple, olives, and cheese. Vegetable, meat and sauce options are included in the price, optional side dishes require an additional payment, ranging from 25,000 – 30,000 VND.
After choosing, the staff will put the ingredients into a tortilla shell and then put it in the oven. Each cake takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, including baking time.
Julien said that in France the cake was created in a suburb with many immigrants, so it was mainly aimed at workers who needed to eat quickly and be full. However, Julien realized that in Vietnam, fresh and clean ingredients are abundant. Vegetables are imported from the store from its own supplier, always guaranteed to be fresh. The tortilla shells are also made in a separate facility and the sauces are handmade.
“Besides ensuring quality, this is also a way to support the local economy,” Julien said.
Julien rolled the cake tightly before putting it in the oven. He said initially, there were only four wheel sizes including S, M, L and XL. However, when the number of Vietnamese customers increased, many people complained that size S was still too big for one person to eat. Therefore, Julien decided to make more size XS and agreed to cut the cake in half from size S. Julien said cake cutting only appeared in Vietnam.
The cakes are put into the oven.
The cake is wrapped in foil to keep it hot even when taken away. In the picture is a size S cake, priced at 130,000 VND.
Hoai Thuong, living in Thanh Xuan district, commented on the plump filling and ordered size S, enough for two people to eat. She likes the flavor of minced beef and the shop’s special cheese sauce. The crust is soft and tightly rolled so it retains its heat.
“The minus point is that the waiting time is quite long. Even though the cake is tightly rolled, the filling still falls out easily when eaten. The taste is quite delicious, but it cannot be eaten several times a week like bread because it is fatty and the price is relatively high,” she said.
Steps to make a French tacos.
Photo,Video: Internet (Vinlove.net)